There’s no sugarcoating it: losses hurt. Whether it’s “aging out” of favorite activities, loss of meaningful work, or even the death of a person you loved, slogging through the pain and grief and anger of loss is hard!
Acceptance may come slowly and feel forced. We greet it with tight lips and a closed fist. We resonate with Ann Lamott’s, “Everything I ever let go of had claw marks on it.” Our fist is being pried open. We feel like victims.
Relinquishment is acceptance-plus. It’s an active, intentional attitude of letting go. We open our fist and freely offer whatever is being taken away. We may not be able to avoid our loss but we can control our response to it. We meet it with an open hand, an open heart, and a free spirit.
We can even practice letting go before the loss occurs.
I learned of a spiritual practice Hindus use to prepare for the ultimate loss, dying. It helps me foresee in symbol what we’ll all experience if we live to old age. Relinquishment can be learned.
This exercise is simple to grasp but it gets harder as you go deeper. I confess I haven’t mastered it yet. But I do trust that working with it is making me more resilient.
You envision a huge bonfire. Others there have come to support you. They are practicing too. With a loud cry, “So-wa-ha!” you imagine throwing into the fire everything that binds you to the earth, one item at a time. You begin with possessions, working up to those things most difficult to relinquish.
I started with books. I could give them up, though it wasn’t easy. But my baby grand piano? I hesitate. “So-wa-ha!” The sapphire ring Jerry gave me on our 40th anniversary? My heart is pounding. Oh God, can I really do this?
Then I remember all the folks I see on TV after a fire or flood or hurricane. They stand amid the rubble that used to be their home, giving thanks that their lives were spared. “It’s only stuff,” they say. So I know it’s possible to lose everything material and move on. “So-wa-ha!”
When I can imagine letting go of possessions, I move to my work, then to relationships, and finally, to my own body. I can’t do this all at once. I’m working my way deeper, gradually.
Of course, you don’t have to be Hindu to practice this. I’m a Christian. Whatever our path, the point is we don’t have to be victims. No one can take from us what we freely give, including our own lives.
Faith, meditation, prayer, and silence are all paths to letting go into freedom. Letting go into Love.
© Carolyn Parr and Beyond Dispute Associates, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carolyn Parr and Beyond Dispute Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.